Rodgers: Judge Suarez on his skill
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is hopeful the quality of football played will decide the winner of the Professional Footballers' Association's Player of the Year award after controversial Reds striker Luis Suarez was shortlisted.
Suarez is far from the most popular player in the Barclays Premier League, and his admission that he had dived in an attempt to win a penalty did little to enhance his reputation, which was tarnished by last season's controversy which saw him banned for eight matches after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
Suarez will face stiff competition from Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie, but Rodgers hopes the criteria which will be used to ascertain the player of the year will be based on football skills alone, and he said: "I would hope it would be football and consistency."
He added: "I have the great advantage of working with him (Suarez) and seeing the warrior spirit he is and I don't think there is any club in the country that wouldn't want him in their team. What he has done for us this season has been amazing. He would certainly be my favourite for it - and he'd thoroughly deserve it."
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas hailed Bale's "outstanding year" after the Spurs winger was named on the shortlists for both Player and Young Player of the Year.
In the Young Player shortlist, Bale is pitted against Hazard, United's Danny Welbeck, Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, Christian Benteke of Aston Villa and Romelu Lukaku, who has spent the season on loan from Chelsea at West Brom.
Villas-Boas believes Bale is a big contender to win one, if not both of the awards, after his impact this season. He said: "Obviously Gazza has had an outstanding year, along with other players. He's such a young player and he's had a tremendous impact on the league this year.
The Portuguese added: "I think he's in with a big, big chance for what he has produced this season, we've seen some spectacular moments."
Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez was not surprised to see Hazard and Mata included, and he said: "I'm really pleased. They've shown the level, the quality they have during the season and I am not surprised. I'm really pleased and really proud for them."
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